Sunday, September 07, 2014

Perfume Storage And Organization- An Update

Image via Tinsel Creation:  Paul T. Frankl, vanity in Penner House, Holmby Hills, California, 1938. Reproduced in Christopher Long, Paul T. Frankl and Modern American Design, 2007.

It was obvious that something had got to give. There were signs of the impending crisis: several shelves that had bottles double and even triple-parked, perfume boxes that had to be turned on the side and labeled so I can tell what's inside, and the occasional shuffling to find the one I was looking for (a vintage Le Dix extrait disappeared for weeks only to be found in my dressing-room). Then the Husband started having nightmares about the thin glass shelves in the cabinets collapsing under the ever-growing weight and crashing spectacularly to the floor. The last straw was last week. Our anniversary involved perfume gifts, but we soon realized that there was absolutely no space left to accommodate these new bottles. We were going to need a bigger boat.

People with a signature scent or a reasonably small perfume collection that's arranged neatly on a beautiful tray atop a dresser will not understand this. It's a fragonerd issue, obviously, but I think that collectors in every field face this to some degree.  The first sign of trouble actually came a couple of years ago when I discovered that my current storage system cannot be expanded any further, as Ikea discontinued their Bertby cabinets. Apparently, those glass shelved did cave in and people were unhappy about it. It meant that we had to find another solution. Fast. I can't say I'm very happy with what we did, as it involved a visit to the Container Store, clearing the bookcase in the bedroom, relocating all the books to various rooms and shelves all over the house (I'm as attached to my books as I am to my perfumes), moving DVDs, photo albums, and who knows what else.

The result is not exactly my dream of custom cabinets (one day!), but there are some major positives. One of my goals was to have all the Blond's bottles located in one place, neatly arranged and easy to see, so he can find his stuff immediately. He prefers to arrange his perfumes and colognes by note, but the vetiver situation was getting out of control. His space is now doubled, and I arranged things more or less by house. He'll probably reshuffle some of it, but as long as he knows where his Vetiver Extraordinaire is standing, I don't care if it's next to French Lover or to Chanel Sycomore.

I felt a ridiculous joy to have all the Lutens bottles, bell jars and rectangles, finally reunited. The same goes for Mona di Orio and others. Not everything makes sense yet, though. I could not find a way yet to put the various Guerlain bottles in an even remotely rational order. Basically, there's a Shalimar bottle in every cabinet: assorted concentrations, sizes, and vintages. You (or I) can never have enough Shalimar. Miller Harris Terre de Bois was separated from its siblings and moved to the Husband's side, as were Slumberhouse Norne and Jeke, while Zahd is kept far far away from there so the Man doesn't need to even look at it.

It's a work in progress. A large part of my vintage collection will get a new cabinet by next week. I already moved several, dug out the ones hiding in my dressing room, and rearranged some drawers. Another task was putting the backups into a more efficient storage system in the basement. That was... interesting. Suffice to say that I have enough Panthere de Cartier and So Pretty for my next eight lives.  I used to be very anti-backup. Then LVMH acquired Guerlain, IFRA happened, and so many favorites were either discontinued or gutted. Which brings us to the amount of vintage Chanel No.19 and Miel de Bois I'm hoarding   safekeeping.

Bonus photos: Philip and Kate while I was trying to figure out where exactly to shove another humongous Mitsouko, and Gemma inspecting the results.

What about you? Have you found an ideal storage and organizing solution? Where do you keep your backups?


  1. Eeuh well, storage can be difficult when the number of bottles, samples, mini's, back-up's etc become numerous.
    I always used to have a small closet with perfumes so my addiction isn't new but a few years ago I started reading perfume blogs (pointing finger ;) and it all got out of control.
    IFRA, discontinuations, and sheer love started a hoarding rage (non, je ne regrette rien!)
    Since then I got a temperature controlled closet - a sort of humidor for perfumes you might say- that soon became too small.
    Today the situation has evolved to 2 bedrooms ,shutters closed and temperature levelled out through airco in summer and winter.
    Storage wise I hate to mix the samples , edt, edp and or extrait of one scent because that becomes messy so I simply went for semi-transparent storage boxes in different sizes that can be pilled one on top of the other. Each box (sometimes 2 or 3 boxes) contains a perfume house.
    What I still should do is make some sort of a spreadsheet and or a list of all I have to make it easier to find things fast.
    I'll be up in the bedrooms on rainy sunday afternoons, one comfortable sofa in the middle of the room to start doing just that.


  2. No...... ;-) My collection is all over the place. One of my dressing-table drawers (and the top of the dressing-table), the whole of a six-drawer tallboy and it's top, a couple of shoeboxes, a large plastic click-shut storage box, and several smaller storage boxes for sample and decants. I can't see the contents of any of it in a single glance, can't find anything easily, and regularly spend ages looking through it all for the one thing I want at that moment. It's so frustrating!
    I like your solution - but don't you worry about light getting to unboxed bottles?

  3. I like the stepped risers you used on the shelves to elevate the back bottles. Are they from the container store as well? This reminds me that I need to sort through and organize my collection when I return home from NYC.

  4. I was so hoping that you would give us at least one photograph! The kitties are a bonus! I don't have enough perfume to have a storage problem but I used to be really into nail polish and I kept my collection in two barrister bookcases.

  5. Oh yes, and William and Kate are pregnant again! Isn't that exciting?!

  6. My collection is- well - pretty big. I use narrow bathroom cabinets from Ikea among other shelfs and places in the bedroom. The dark (usually) environment is a must of course. And not too hot. I love how you put a big black line trough the word hoarding (when talking about Miel de Bois)!! LOL

  7. Your storage and collection look beautiful, and it's always a treat to see the kitties helping you. :-)

    The Improvements catalogue has discreet storage elements called "Cabidor" that are intended to fasten to hinges behind bathroom doors. I've lined up several of these very narrow (only 3-3/4 inch deep) shelf units along a corridor between my bedroom closets that would be too narrow for regular shelves. They look nice, take up very little space, and each provide eight sturdy shelves with lips that keep bottles in place. I do have a few boxes that are too deep for the shelves; those go on top of the Cabidors or on a closet shelf.

    This is open shelving, so I keep my perfumes in their boxes to prevent exposure to light, and the area where I have them gets no sunlight. Boxless perfumes remain in a closet, drawer or refrigerator. Backup bottles are in the fridge. I know the Osmotheque uses a slightly warmer temperature for storage, but I haven't noticed any problems so far.

    I keep samples and decants in cryo boxes from Biologix - simple white cardboard boxes with cardboard dividers that are intended to store research samples in freezers. The smaller boxes hold 88 sample vials, for example. I organize them alphabetically by brand and alphabetically by name within brand.

    I have no affiliation with any of the commercial products or sources above. nozknoz

  8. So happy to see the photos of the Philip and Kate and Gemma! As always, seeing them means I'm instantly smiling. Which is a very good thing because thinking about my perfume storage does not make me smile. Heart satisfyingly beautiful and centralized it is not. Don't really want a larger house, but I do dream of HGTV coming and doing a perfume collection intervention and creating a safe (thinking of hurricanes, tornadoes here), windowless, temperature controlled room completely filled with wonderfully clean lined, sturdy, yet very aesthetically pleasing shelving and drawers for my perfumes. However, the glitch would be that I wouldn't want this to be televised because I don't want to have to explain to acquaintances and/or strangers why I have so many perfumes.
    Love the photo of your shelves and am mesmerized by that first photo of the vanity with the vintage perfumes - trying not to continue to attempt to identify every single bottle, trying to remind myself I do not then need to go and look for all of the ones I don't have on ebay (this, of course, explains part of my problem in needing a full extra room just for perfumes).

  9. Samples I keep in various carved wood boxes - in rows by house, then name. These are also entered into a spreadsheet w/fields for other pertinent info. Of course, I have fallen years behind in filing/entering the more recent samples, so that's a mess. Full bottles/decants are mostly in a mini-fridge however they will best fit. The overflow on those is slowly taking over our sleeping loft. Backups have taken over 1.5 crispers in the regular food fridge in the kitchen. Is this normal?

  10. So nice to see those Mona di Orio's ! I love her :)


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